The Centre on Sunday urged the Supreme Court to dismiss pleas challenging the validity of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), stressing that it does not encourage “illegal migration” as is a “focused law” which grants citizenship only to members of six specified communities who came on or before December 31, 2014.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and justices S Ravindra Bhat and Bela M Trivedi is scheduled to hear as many as 232 petitions, mostly PILs, on October 31 on the issue of CAA.

In a detailed 150-page affidavit, the Ministry of Home Affairs said, “Parliament is competent to make laws for the whole or any part of the territory of India as provided in Article 245 (1) of The Constitution of India.”

Seeking dismissal of the pleas, the affidavit, filed by Sumant Singh, a joint secretary in the MHA, said that the CAA, 2019 “facilitates the grant of citizenship to migrants belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who entered in India on or before December 31, 2014.”

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It said the law applied to those who have been exempted by the central government under the provisions of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and other relevant provisions and the rules made under the Foreigners Act, 1946.

“It is further submitted that this is a focused law that has a specific cut-off date of December 31, 2014. Therefore, only such migrants belonging to the six specified communities from the three countries who had entered into India on or before December 31, 2014 will be covered by the provisions of this Amendment Act,” it said.

It also said that these migrants are already living in India and the amended law does not have any provision which provides for the grant of citizenship to such migrants who would have come after the specified date or on any future date.

“It is respectfully submitted that the CAA does not in any way encourage illegal migration into Assam and therefore the petition that it has the potential to encourage illegal migration into Assam is unfounded,” it said.

It said the petitions are liable to be dismissed and reserved its right to file a more detailed affidavit at a later stage.

The amended law seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim migrants belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Jain, and Parsi communities who came to the country from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan on or before December 31, 2014.

The top court had issued notice to the Centre and had sought its response by the second week of January 2020.

The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and others, including Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, RJD leader Manoj Jha, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra and AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi, have filed pleas on the issue.